Candidates vying to represent Utah’s first congressional district met in a debate Tuesday night. Republican Congressman Rob Bishop and Democratic challenger Donna McAleer squared off in front of a live audience at Weber State University in Ogden.
Donna McAleer wasted little time before criticizing Rob Bishop’s voting record in the U.S. House. She called him the guardian of gridlock and blamed him for helping shut down the federal government last year.
“Voting to shut down the government for sixteen days last Fall was wrong. It was a political stunt that hurt our state and our country costing Utah thirty million and furloughing forty thousand workers. Congressman Bishop helped manipulate the rules to keep the government shutdown going and voted against the bi-partisan compromise that would have ended it. He believes our biggest fight is against the federal government. Our biggest fight is strengthening our economy and improving our schools,” says McAleer.
Bishop responded by blaming his colleagues in the U.S. Senate for their in the failed fiscal compromise. Also taking center stage at the debate was the issue of public lands. McAleer voiced her support of federal regulation of those lands in Utah saying that people all over the country in essence own them. Congressman Bishop called for local regulation.
“So the idea that Utah should take control, make decisions on this is perfectly legitimate. And Utahns are competent to do it and they should be empowered to do that. And I support that. It’s not an issue of whether we have public lands, it’s an issue of who actually decides. Someone who lives here or someone who lives back in Washington. I choose the person who lives here,” says Bishop.
The two candidates also tackled immigration and recent U.S. military air strikes against the Islamic state. The debate was organized by the Utah Debate Commission and moderated by Ken Verdoia of KUED television. UDC’s next debate will be on Thursday in Cedar City and feature candidates Chris Stewart and Luz Robles who are running for the seat in Utah’s second congressional district.